The Executive Director of the I CARE Foundation, Peter Senese is dedicated to protecting children from trafficking and international abduction. Under Peter’s leadership with the I CARE Foundation, including hosting a conference on child abduction at the United Nations, the U.S. reported international child abduction rate declined 38% since 2009. Peter’s activism has been called heroic by dozens of families while being praised by global leaders. Peter is a multiple best-selling author.
International Child Abduction: Zero Tolerance And The Need For Educating The Judiciary Regarding The Hague Convention
The I CARE Foundation holds their unmovable position of zero tolerance when it comes to those individuals that are involved in the act of parental child abduction. This is a serious crime that not only sees victimized children, but also the targeted parents, who in most cases are unaware that an abduction is being planned. A parent does not have the right to abduct a child, as well, a parent should never think that removing a child from the other parent by way of abduction is in the best interest of the child. It is not! The fact is, there are both short and long-term ramifications on the child which are well-documented. The underlying reality is that once abduction occurs, regardless if the kidnapping is done by a known person or stranger, the child’s safety is placed in grave risk.
When issues arise regarding mobilization (when a parent wants to relocate to another country with the child but without the child’s other parent), these issues should be rectified in accordance with the law. Not by creating an evil scheme filled with false innuendos and accusations against the other parent so to create a misleading impression that abduction is critical for the child’s safety and well-being. It is not. Seeking legal assistance via criminal and civil remedies if abusive conditions exist is the option that must be sought.
A would-be abducting parent puts their child in harm’s way, and this is not acceptable! The I CARE Foundation takes the position that international parental child abduction is a severe form of child abuse with consequences that will be extreme and will impact all phases of the child’s life. With that being said, we also acknowledge the severe negative impact that abduction has on the victimized targeted parents. Both parties, the child and the targeted parent, are victims when we are dealing with parental child abduction.
In nearly all cases of parental abduction, children are used as pawns by the abducting parent in order to carry out their extensive premeditated plan which includes, but is not limited to causing severe suffering to the child’s other parent. One of the greatest challenges that children and their targeted parent face is the lack of accountability through the courts. If a court neglects to hold abductors or would-be abductors accountable, this not only means that the targeted parents may remain at the mercy of a vengeance-seeking abducting parent that has already caused considerable harm, but it also sends a very dangerous global message that parental child abductors have limited risks when it comes to legal accountability, both in respect to the courts, but also law enforcement. This needs to change!
As we look forward and create changes to help protect the hundreds of thousands of children each year who are targeted for international abduction, we see the critical need to create an International Judiciary College.
The fact is that the vast majority of judges who oversee international child abduction cases have not been trained in the very complex legal, psychological, political, financial and logistical matters that impact all cases of international abduction. We face a reality that has untrained judges and courts contributing to many failures, including properly and expeditiously overseeing legal proceedings that seek the return of abducted children to their country of habitual residency. An International Judiciary College, ideally under the guidance of the Permanent Bureau, would have a dramatic impact on reducing the global abduction rate, but also increasing diplomatic relationships among countries. As well, it is highly conceivable that the issues that exist today regarding the lack of judicial compliance would be greatly reduced as more judges become trained on Hague matters.
The reality is that today many targeted parents who have experienced abduction and who have been abused by the abducting parent remain targets of their child’s kidnapper. Courts are hesitant to hold parental child abductors accountable for their act. Part of the problem lies heavily in an untrained judiciary – judges who are not trained in the deep understanding of parental abduction matters. Tragically, the result of untrained judiciary and actors involved in abduction matters is that the targeted parent will believe that the courts will not hold the abductor accountable and equally alarming – by failing to hold the abductor accountable – the courts in essence empower the abductor who has returned with the child after the kidnapping – to attempt to abduct again or to continue making allegations against the targeted parent.
Tragically, when a targeted parent of abduction receives little or no support or protection from the court while they are working to protect their child from abuse (including but not limited to abduction), then that parent can become disenchanted with the legal system they once believed would protect them and their child. They lose hope.
Sometimes claims of abuse are real, and we acknowledge this reality. In such cases we urge all parents to seek all intervention and assistance available to them under the rules of law. Conversely, we have also seen in a great number of international child abduction cases when both men and women make false claims against one another. This is a reality.
As always we encourage all parents to be familiar with the RISKS AND WARNING SIGNS of international parental child abduction. Being aware of these warning signs is critical in preventing an international abduction from occurring. Never think that you or your child(ren) could not become a victim of this inhumane crime. Be proactive and protect yourself… and your child(ren).